|R and I riding in the becak|
First up was exploring Java, the cultural and population center of Indonesia. I had only visited Bali before, which is really not like the rest of Indonesia whatsoever (being extremely touristed, Hindu/animist in religion and culturally unique: it is also significantly wealthier than the rest of the country). My main goal was to see the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Borobudur and Prambanan, ancient temple complexes built in the 9th Century and often compared to Angkor Wat. I didn't know much else about Javanese history/culture before we went.
So arriving in Yogyakarta (the gateway to the ruins) was a fantastic surprise. It is a large city (around 500,000 people) and the home of numerous universities, including Indonesia's oldest, largest and top ranked one, which considering that Indonesia has around 250 million people and is the world's fourth most populous country is a bigger deal than you might imagine. This gives a young, exciting vibe to the town: it has a thriving art scene and at night the streets are full of carefree young people listening to music, eating street food and just generally hanging out.
|They have lots of artistic graffiti, so strange after Singapore where there is none at all|
|Indonesian tourists going for a carriage ride: Yogyakarta is a big tourist destination, largely for domestic tourists|
|Gamelan orchestra, the classical music of Indonesia|
|Sultan's palace, with one of his retainers: he still has hundreds of them, knives in their sashes|
|This screen represents the Javanese calendar|
|Wayang (shadow puppet) stained glass window|
|Historic cannon: the Sultan has ruled here since 1749|
|Model of a woman making batik: Yogyakarta is a major center for this art|
|Plus the food is good: I have no idea what any of this is, but it was delicious!|